Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Day 11: Shampoo and Capers

When I moved in last week, my new flat had an air of the Marie-Celeste to it.  Jars of half-eaten mayonnaise; wilting house plants demanding immediate attention from a less-than-competent nurse; and a DVD still in the DVD player, which had me briefly worried, emblazoned as it was with a large red heart and displaying no title.  It turned out to be Love Actually, which shows that I was right to be worried.

The whole effect is as if my predecessors have just popped out for a morning paper, rather than moving back to America after two years.  Naturally, they did not want to take anything with them beyond a couple of suitcases, so they just packed their bags and left, kindly bequeathing to me the entire contents of their larder, bathroom shelves, and medicine cabinet.

This is why I have been frantically baking to use up the eggs they left behind.  But beyond perishables, they have also left lots of flour and baking goods, a goodly supply of tea, various oils and condiments, and a few oddities such as an easy pannacotta mix and more fish sauce than I can use in a year of Thai cooking.  There is even a freezer drawer full of frozen vegetables.  Frugality Win!

However, the downside of all this bounty is that I have had to hunt rather stickily through the lot and throw out anything too badly out-of-date, or simply dodgy-looking.  Also, I will never ever eat a jar of capers, not even if all other foodstuffs were wiped out in a nuclear holocaust.  In such an event, they and the cockroaches are welcome to one another.  But at the end of this clearout, I have been left with a good stock of food basics, and I am heartily grateful for such American generosity.  Although they could have cleaned the flat a little more.

However, inheriting the life-style of strangers in this fashion has left me a little puzzled by their habits, even if the mystery DVD was in the event entirely innocuous.  For example: ranged on the bathroom shelf at the foot of the bath are - get this! - nine different bottles of shampoo.  Each one of them is a different brand or scent, and two are accompanied by a conditioner.  And what's more, these are no remnants: each bottle is about half full.  This is wonderful for me, and puts off the cheap shampoo search until at least Christmas.  
But nine??  What was going on there?  There were only two of them living in the flat.  Did they have a different shampoo for each day of the week, and with a couple on the side for when they felt like ringing the changes?  And on a related matter, who in their right mind would pair a minty Alberto Balsam Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo with an Alberto Balsam Sunkissed Raspberry Herbal Conditioner?  I tried it, and my hair smelled like an antiseptic pavlova.

I realise as I write this, that by my own account, even trying the combination makes me not quite in my right mind.

Ah well.  Who can penetrate the mysteries of the human heart?  Or even of the human DVD collection?


Alison said...

We still have various bottles of stuff left by the previous occupants of our house - it seems wrong to bin potentially useful stuff,but there's things we just haven't found a use for: chemically garden stuff, barbeque lighter fluid (we don't have a barbeque)and special washing machine liquid just for black jeans. Perhaps one day; better not chuck them just yet....

We moved here in 2003.

Fran said...

I didn't even know you got special washing machine liquid for black jeans. WHat is special about it? Could it be used on ordinary jeans?

Alison said...

Now I can't find it! It was bio- liquid, and we're a non-bio family, which was another reason for not using it. If it turns up I'll re-read the label and let you know! The previous owners were German, and had a German washing machine; we had to get the kitchen replumbed for a non-German machine. I think it might have been German black-jean washing machine liquid.

Perhaps after 8 years we should really just bin the last owners left-behinds...